Workplace mental health and Covid-19: experiences of firms in the Midlands

ERC Insight Paper

Associated Themes
  • COVID-19
  • Management and Leadership
  • Mental Health
  • Productivity and performance

We used depth interviews with business managers from the Midlands Engine area of England to explore the ways in which they and their organisations experienced mental health issues during the Covid-19 lockdown period. We spoke with our participants before and after lockdown. Four key themes emerged from the managers’ narratives. Firstly, the crisis has meant significant changes to the ways that many people experience the workplace and this has led to a number of new triggers for mental health issues. Secondly, mental health issues during and post-lockdown affected some groups of employees more, or in different ways, than others. Often, those affected were different from those who had experienced mental health issues pre-Covid. Thirdly, while stigma is known to discourage people from disclosing mental health issues, employees may be even less likely to admit to mental health issues during and following the crisis and lockdown than before. Fourthly, with increased remote working, it may be more difficult to identify the changes in behaviour that can signal that someone is struggling with mental health issues. Taking account of these insights is important to allow employers, policymakers and mental health practitioners to be aware of potential issues, and to design appropriate interventions. Our findings also have implications for the future research agenda.